News that Nielsen will purchase Arbitron is good news for online radio services like Pandora. Nielsen, which measures many media segments, already has a strong foothold in digital and cross platform measurement, not only in the US but globally. Yesterday’s announcement that they will purchase Arbitron was quickly followed by statements that they will measure online radio services like Pandora as well.
I call this excellent news. Arbitron, which has dallied in Internet radio measurement several times in the past, recently denied Pandora a place at the table when they sought to be measured alongside broadcast radio counterparts. Pressure from those broadcasters, who spend a lot of money with Arbitron, certainly appeared to be one of the reasons that the company decided to measure streaming only as an adjunct to broadcasts. That decision enraged advertising agencies as well as online only services.
I think Nielsen’s entry into radio and digital audio measurement would be an excellent thing for the marketplace. Their multi-media measurement platform and global footprint likely mean that broadcasters won’t be able to flex their muscle to influence company decisions that are better made with a broad perspective. Nielsen is a company that understands that today’s advertisers need measurement tools that can enable accurate media placement across many platforms and technologies. Folding radio into that mix can benefit radio as advertisers are able to view it as an important part of a larger multi media landscape.
AndoMedia presented a preview of new metrics at RAIN Summit East last week. In keeping with the format of the Summit, Patrick Reynolds of Ando gave us a few snapshots of data. The online listening audience measured by AndoMedia grew from 204 Million in May of 2009 to 234 Million in August of 2009 – and according to Reynolds, that growth was attributable to increased listening, not to increased number of stations being measured. After the presentation he also told me that number does not include Pandora’s audience, which would surely have an impact.
The average Internet radio listener streams nine sessions per week, and 77% of listeners stream every week. I particularly like that last stat. An enormous percentage of Twitter users signed up, tweeted a few times, and have yet to return to the medium. Twitter retains only about 40% of its users from one month to the next. The fact that streaming audio is keeping ¾ of its audience active on a weekly basis is very promising for continued growth.
Ando is about to make significant changes to its measurement, and Reynolds talked a little about some of the new terms they will be using. Replacing Average Quarter Hour will be the term Average Open Sessions, which will count all sessions of at least a minute in length. This unit is closer to the actual data they are collecting and requires less manipulation. It’s also more in keeping with terms used in other digital media metrics.
According to Reynolds the changes have been blessed by MRC, the board they are working with for accreditation of Webcast Metrics. He promises a new ranker soon, following a four month hiatus while they worked through some of these transitions.